Home > Poetry > Now Over the Empty Apartment
Published: Sun Oct 15 2006
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.
Now Over the Empty Apartment

You in the door look back
_             _and are no longer there,

although that is the hall
_             _through which you walked a hundred times
thinking well, what of it?—awake

_             _in the middle of the night—

and that is the window where the sky drew back & night came on,

_             _where the planes banked in
scheduled and flashing from the west—

_             _Your hand was pulling shut the shade
and mornings, your hand pulled it up again

though you are not there, you in the door going over the days,
_             _going as a wave goes, that is,

nowhere, and all your lovers now? Those real,
_             _imagined? The sad,
gratified sighs?

_                          _All that while,
through the evenings, didn’t something
_             _quietly call,

something off in the marginal light,

in the vapor through which
_             _the faces of passengers dimmed

and flickered? That slight
_             _rivering, insistent

beneath the blare of the television, beneath you as well, at the surface

busy with addresses, with pictures & books. You crowded the place,
_             _you in the door

who, looking back now—over the hallway, the shine
_             _of the relentless floor—

can no longer be sure

you are the person indeed who had that body
_             _and lived days in it there.

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Kate Northrop is the author of three poetry collections: Clean (Persea Books, 2011), Things Are Disappearing Here, New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice and runner-up for the James Laughlin Award, and Back Through Interruption, which received the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize from Kent State University Press. A 2014 recipient of the Jeannette Haien Ballard Writers Prize, Northrop is a contributing editor at The American Poetry Review and teaches in the University of Wyoming’s MFA program. (updated 10/2014)

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